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Petition opposes closure of Chambers in Edinburgh

19 October 2009

A petition has been launched in support of NUJ members in Scotland who want a multinational publishing firm to abide by European legislation and postpone the threat of 27 immediate redundancies.

By law French-owned Chambers Harrap should have given advance notice of the closure of their Edinburgh office to the European Works Council (EWC) of its ultimate parent group. In fact, the Scottish workers had never even been told that the EWC existed – even though large firms operating in more than one European Union country are required to have one.

Chambers has been in Edinburgh since 1819 producing famous titles like The Chambers Dictionary and the Chambers Biographical Dictionary. The company is now part of Hachette UK, which is owned by the French Lagardère group.

Arnaud Nourry, the Chief Executive Officer of Hachette Livre, has outraged French unions by refusing to meet representatives of the Lagardère European Works Council to discuss the Edinburgh closure.

Liam Rodger, NUJ Father of Chapel at Chambers Harrap, said:

"The UK is covered by the EWC consultation legislation, and Hachette UK have sent representatives to Paris meetings in the past.
"However, staff at Chambers Harrap have never been informed even of the existence of the Lagardère EWC, or of UK delegates to it.
"There is no mention of it in the Hachette UK group handbook, and there is no mention of it on the group intranet, which is intended, among other things, to keep group employees informed of company policies and HR issues.
"The intention is clearly to neuter the effect of the EU legislation in the UK."

A statement from the Chambers Harrap workers was read out to the annual general meeting of the company's EWC in Paris last week.

Peter Murray, NUJ Vice President who represents Scotland on the NUJ national executive, said:

"It's just nonsense for the company to claim that the Edinburgh centre is not viable. On the contrary, the Chambers Harrap operation could become the Scottish digital resource centre for small publishing companies north of the border."

Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary, said:

"We are committed to fighting this closure and using all means at our disposal to keep the Edinburgh operation open."

High profile Scottish authors such as Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Christopher Brookmyre are all published by Chambers' parent company. Philip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, has written in protest against the redundancy threat.

Tags: , lagardère group, redundancies, chambers harrap, closure, hachette uk, edinburgh, books, european works council, eu